Electric Heater Sparking? Here’s What to Do


Electric space heaters are the perfect solution for keeping a room toasty during the chilly months. But what should you do if you notice your electric heater sparking? In this article, you’ll find out why this happens and what you should do to stop it immediately.

If your electric heater sparks, do this:

  1. Do not touch the heater
  2. Go to the circuit breaker and shut off the power to it
  3. Wait for the heater to cool down
  4. Do not plug the heater back in until you have solved the issue

Are you ready to find out what you should do when your heater sparks and what causes this problem? Then make sure you check out the rest of this article.

What to Do When Your Electric Heater Sparks

A sparking electric heater is definitely a concern and a sure sign that something is not quite right. That’s why in this section, you’ll see everything you should do to stay safe when your electric heater sparks.

Note: In this section, you will see what you should do when the main body of your electric heater begins to spark. I will discuss what you should do about a sparking connection a little later.

Step #1 Do Not Touch the Heater

If you see your electric heater spark, do not touch it. You should never touch the heater to see what is wrong with it nor to try to fix it.

If you can control your electric heater using a remote, use this to switch it off. If it cannot, you will have to do something else to cut the power to the appliance. We’ll take a look at that next.

Step #2 Go to the Circuit Breaker

Not many electric heaters are remote-controlled. So what can you do if your heater doesn’t have a remote you can use to turn it off without touching it? Let’s have a look at another method.

To cut the power to your electric heater, go to your circuit breaker. Then disable the power that is feeding that circuit. If you cannot work out which circuit breaker powers the appliance pull the plug on it without touching the heater itself.

disable power to outlet
Turn the power to the heater off at the circuit breaker

#3 Wait for the Heater to Cool Down

Once you have cut the power to the heater, you will need to wait for it to cool down. Do not attempt to move or inspect the heater until it is safe to do so. How long you will need to wait will depend on how long the heater was on and the temperature it was working at.

#4 Solve the Issue

Before you can plug your electric heater back in, you will need to find out why it began to spark. To do so, you will have to have it serviced by a professional. If the appliance is old and you don’t think it is worth spending money on repairs, I recommend that you throw it away. You should not attempt to repair an old heater yourself.

Do not try to operate the heater again until you have had it serviced and the problem is fixed.

Why Electric Heaters Spark

So I’ve covered what you should do when your electric heater begins to spark. But let’s now get into the reasons why this happens. Knowing why your electric heater sparks will help you to prevent this problem in the future.

But before we get into it, it is good to know that some sparking is normal. But, you should be concerned if you see any of the following:

  • Lengthy sparks. This is a spark that lingers and fizzes for a long time.
  • Large sparks. This is a spark that is so big it comes out of the power socket.
  • Sparks with an odor. Sparks that smell like burning or melting are not safe. The smell of burning or melting plastic is a warning sign of a more serious issue.

Sparking When Plugging It In

Do you see sparks when you plug your electric heater in? Seeing sparks might be normal, but it is unpleasant. Why does this happen? Sparking occurs when there is an accumulation of resistance between the receptacle contacts. Here’s what you can do to avoid this problem.

  1. Before you plug the heater in at the mains, make sure you have switched it off. This will reduce the accumulation of resistance and therefore, the possibility of sparking.
  2. Turn the wall switch off. If your wall power outlet has an on/off switch, turn it off before plugging in the heater.
  3. Push the plug in then turn the wall power switch on
  4. Activate the switches on the heater
outlet with switches
Turn the on/off switch off before plugging in the heater

Sparking When Plugging Out

Just as when you plug your heater in, you may also see sparks when you plug your heater out. These are also nothing to worry about as long as the sparks are not lengthy, large, or smelly.

Is there anything you can do to reduce this problem? Yes, take a look at the good practices when plugging out an appliance below.

  1. Before you pull the plug, turn the heater off using the switches on the appliance
  2. Turn the wall switch off at the power supply if your plug socket has one
  3. Pull the plug

Sparking Due to Malfunctioning

If your electrical heater malfunctions, it will also begin to spark. Here are a couple of reasons why your electrical heater may malfunction:

  • You have plugged the heater into an extension cord. Electric heaters are too powerful for extension cords and could be a fire hazard. You should only plug them directly into your wall outlet. Discontinue the use of the extension cord to fix this problem.
  • There are multiple appliances in the circuit. The electrical circuit could be overwhelmed and that would cause sparking. Unplug some of the other appliances from the circuit to solve this problem.
  • The appliance is old. If your electrical heater is old, it may have an electrical fault. You will need to get a technician to inspect the appliance to see what the problem is. If the problem cannot be fixed, you will need to replace the heater.
  • Water. If there is humidity in the home, an electrical appliance might spark because of water. This could also happen if one of your pipes has a leak. You should test the wall outlet with other appliances to see if this could be the problem. If it is, discontinue the use of that wall socket and call a professional.
  • Faulty appliance. If the appliance is new but causes a lot of sparking, there may be a fault with it. If the appliance is still under warranty, you should be able to get a free repair or replacement. All you will need to do is get hold of the manufacturer with your proof of purchase.


Does your electric heater spark? Then that no doubt has you feeling uneasy. But this article has listed 4 things you should do when your heater sparks to make sure that you stay safe. It has also gone through why sparks happen and what you can do reduce them.

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Have a great day!


I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more